Igor Metelitsin Gallery

Valery Turchin, `Masters...Power of will and imagination `, 2007
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    Valery Turchin, `Masters...Power of will and imagination `, 2007

Works and interviews of Plavinsky, Khamdamov, Kuper, Berber.
Essay: "From the author" by Valery Turchin
Pages: 308
Language: English
Published: Spring, 2007



The reason for publishing any book (or serious exhibition catalogue) is of course understood by the publisher, but it is not always apparent to the intended readers, who in this case are lovers of modern art. So I will briefly try to explain.  Generally speaking, the publication of this kind of catalogue is the fruit of a cooperation between the art dealer or gallery owner and the person to whom the catalogue is dedicated—that is, the artist.

In February 1999 in Soho, New York, I conducted a video interview with the famous 20th century art dealer Ronald Feldman at his gallery, which has achieved cult status.  Long before that I had read the book The Art Dealers from cover to cover, in which Ronald Feldman and his colleagues, Leo Castelli, Ivan Carp, Ileana Sonnabend and a dozen other well-known American and European art dealers told of their lives, their careers, their successes and failures. These are the people who discovered Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist and many other individuals who later became leading lights of 20th century art. The main idea that can be traced through most of the stories and lives of highly successful 20th century art dealers is that being an art dealer is not a profession or an occupation, but simply a way of life—one that you live only if you can’t live any other way. During that conversation, which lasted almost an hour, Ronald Feldman said of the place of the art dealer in the artist-art dealer-viewer triangle, “It does not matter how successful you are, even if you are as successful as Leo Castelli; you always have to recognize that on the page of art history you will be only a footnote, a reference, while the entire page is dedicated to the artist.”

When I asked him whether he regretted abandoning his career as a brilliant American lawyer at the age of 34 to embark on such a risky, unpredictable and financially precarious endeavour as art dealing, that intelligent, ironic and kind man exclaimed, “What are you talking about? Never! It was a passport to a wonderful world. It’s a very difficult task, but at the same time it’s a privilege to live and work and associate with famous people such as these great artists.”

As for the masters whose art is represented in this catalogue, I would first of all like to express my gratitude for this privilege. By associating and working with Yuri Kuper, Rustam Khamdamov and Dmitry Plavinsky since 1994-1995 and Mersad Berber since 1998 and, prior to that, with Ernst Neizvestny and Mikhail Shemiakine, I learned a lot of valuable life lessons, not all of which were emotionally positive or financially successful. But this was the central meaning of my life and work on both sides of the ocean, in Russia and in America. As for the artists whose works are included in this catalogue, I understand clearly that they were successful and famous long before I met them. However, it would be unfair if our cooperation did not leave a trace not only in the many exhibits—mainly in Moscow and Saint Petersburg—but also in films and catalogues, as well as in this book that we now offer to lovers of art.

The sections dedicated to the artists are not intended to cover their entire oeuvre.  It would be impossible to do this in such a format. Besides, this has already been done in many museum catalogues, monographs, films and articles.

The works in this catalogue are in private collections in Russia and abroad and are owned by collectors and simple art lovers who have worked with the London Contemporary Art Gallery for the past seven or eight years.

Most of these collections are remarkable for their openness to different ethnic origins as a philosophy for creating a collection of modern figurative art in the 21st century.  The success of Croatian artist Mersad Berber, an ethnic Bosnian from Sarajevo, confirms the old hypothesis that culture cannot be made to order.

I would also like to thank the author of this book, Valery Turchin, for the many years he has spent studying the works of these artists.

Those who would like to read more will find in the appendix to this catalogue two of my interviews with Dmitry Plavinsky taken in 1999 and 2003, and my interview with Yuri Kuper taken in 2003, as well as video materials on the works of both artists, including the film Yury Kuper: Art Myths or Craft.

Igor Metelitsin,


London Contemporary Art-EEB, Inc.

Price: $200.00

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